Much of the world has never experienced the blessing of the Ten Commandments.
That’s why India and many smaller nations are poor (according to Indian thinker Vishal Mangalwadi in The Book That Made Your World), and graft and bribery are widespread. When you don’t have a moral foundation that creates freedom, you are ripe for tyranny and its subsequent fruits of poverty, corruption, and a lack of human rights.
Western nations have enjoyed the blessings of the Ten Commandments and faith in Jesus Christ in varying degrees. But today, that foundation is crumbling.
What does a world look like without the Ten Commandments? If our current political leaders have their way, we are about to find out.
A World Without the Ten Commandments
For nearly three thousand years the Ten Commandments provided portions of the globe with a foundation for right and wrong. Through the Reformation in Northern Europe beginning in the 16th century, whole nations began to base their civil polity on the guiding principles of the Decalogue.
It was Samuel Rutherford, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, who published Lex, Rex in 1644, who rightly argued that kings are subject to God’s laws (the Ten Commandments) rather than the other way around–the standard for most tyrants since the beginning of time.
No nation built its freedom more squarely on the Ten Commandments than the USA. As James Madison declared:
We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.
Thus, the Ten Commandments are prominently displayed in the United States Supreme Court. Our laws were built upon their guiding wisdom.
But much of that is unraveling before our eyes.
In my lifetime, I remember an American culture whose laws generally followed the teaching of the Ten Commandments. We once believed “In God We Trust.” Swearing was dirty or looked down up. Most stores were closed on Sundays. Families stayed intact and parents were respected (Father Knows Best). Murder was rare and wrong. Adultery, frowned upon.
I remember being taught in kindergarten a cute jingle against lying: “Hon-es-ty. No matter what the consequences be. Is the very best pol-i-cy.”
We were also learned that envy and coveting destroy human relationships.
But now our country and many Western nations are rapidly turning away from the wisdom of the commandments. People’s rejection of God and the Bible has led to corrupt institutions and ungodly leaders who are pushing us off a moral cliff.
We are rapidly leaving the protection of God’s loving commands for social chaos.
In both Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 we read about the giving of the Ten Commandments to the Hebrew nation. They were designed to bless the people, provide a balance of form and freedom in human life, teach the truth about reality (God, law, sin, mercy, and justice), and make them a light to the nations.
Here’s a look at each command and how we are destroying them in America. Then I will suggest how to make a revival of the Ten Commandments a priority in our lives.
Commandment One – No God but God.
Americans are turning away from God in record numbers, and during the pandemic, a great “pruning” of God’s Church has taken place. As God-consciousness recedes in our communities, tyranny grows on every hand through government mandates and gross manifestations of evil in many areas of life.
Commandment Two – Don’t make idols or any kind
Idols are anything that takes God’s place and cheapens our humanity. Most Americans now live for self-pleasure created by affluence (Francis Schaeffer’s phrase) and essentially “worship” money, sex, and entertainment. Going from big (God) to small (self) is destroying the nation’s soul.
Commandment Three – Don’t misuse (take in vain) God’s Name
Cussing and swearing have always been around, but the Internet now spews it everywhere. Social media is today’s equivalent of the Roman sewers. It stinks–and God’s glorious Name has become a common four-letter word–not just used by drunken sailors.
Commandment Four – Rest on the Sabbath Day
Whether you prefer Saturdays or Sundays, most Americans do not worship on either day or are committed to a day of meditative rest (for their good). It’s 24-7 business or pleasure and go to the beach instead of church. We rarely “rest in God,” but turn to alcohol and drugs as substitutes.
Commandment Five – Honor your parents
The breakdown of the family is one of the most egregious realities of American life. Parents are not esteemed in the home and even some family members are estranged. The nuclear family rarely eats together let alone worships and studies the Bible. Divorce is as common as a one-dollar bill (and as cheap).
Commandment Six – Do not murder
2020 saw a thirty percent rise in murders–highest since statistics have been kept. Previous high was 12.8% in 1968. That doesn’t count the largest holocaust in world history–abortion–which has taken over seventy million lives in the U.S. and one-to-two billion globally.
Commandment Seven – Do not commit adultery (or any other sexual sin).
Sex before marriage used to be rare, adultery uncommon, and brides getting married in white dresses (symbolizing chastity) once meant something. No more. We stand awash in sexual immorality and pornography as a society and even glorify it on television and in the movies.
Commandment Eight – Do not steal
The government practices theft through unjust taxation and give-away entitlement programs. Looters and vandals destroy businesses for sport and corrupt prosecutors don’t even charge them.
Commandment Nine – Do not lie.
For the first time in America, you can’t trust the news, the FBI, the CDC, or what many people in authority tell us. “Fake News” is the order of the day because many outlets have an agenda–and it isn’t finding the truth. We tolerate fibbing politicians because we citizens elect them.
Commandment Ten – Don’t covet other people’s possessions
Marxism/Socialism was invented to get a large portion of the population envious of the “rich” and then take everybody’s money away in the name of “equity.” When you see a dress called “Tax the Rich” you know you’re looking at a demonic message.
I once saw a cartoon showing a person with a large hammer hitting the Ten Commandments (as if to destroy them). In the next frame, the Ten Commandments hadn’t budged, but the little man with the mallet had broken himself into thousands of pieces.
You don’t break God’s principles. If you turn away from them, they end up breaking you. A world without the Ten Commandments is a hellish place–and we are rapidly entering it in America.
But there’s always hope in God.
Start with yourself. Do you know the Ten Commandments? Can you paraphrase them in order? That’s your assignment for today. Each of us needs a renewal of the love of God’s wise commands in our own heart and life.
Then live them and teach them to those around you.
In Matthew 5:19, 20, Jesus gives us his perspective on God’s wonderful laws for living:
Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom (The Message).
Let’s pray for a revival of the Ten Commandments (and faith) in every area of life.